The Dallas Cowboys were blown out of the water by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football, and star wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t come close to approaching the numbers he had the last time the Saints and Cowboys squared off. Even though Bryant’s lone reception of the night went for 44 yards, the Cowboys were only able to target Bryant twice in the passing game. It was a rough day on offense and on defense for the Cowboys, as it seemed like only running back DeMarco Murray put forward a positive display. While he was a really nice bright spot, Tony Romo really struggled in a game that he should have shined in (he’s usually been excellent in primetime games against high-scoring offenses and somewhat porous pass defenses this season).
Bryant came into the game with a back injury that he has tried to downplay, even though he reportedly needed an Epidural shot last week. Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stated on Friday that Bryant’s back injury is a muscle issue and not a disc-related issue, which refuted a strong report from FOX Sports Southwest last week which stated the opposite (in fact, it stated that Bryant would need surgery). Bryant refuted everything as well and was never expected to miss the Saints game (he, of course, didn’t), but it’s still fair to wonder how much he was impacted by the injury.
After the game, Bryant once again downplayed the effects of the injury, and basically gave an “it is what it is” response when asked about the fact that he only had two targets.
According to the San Antonio Express-News’s Tom Orsborn, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett explained why Bryant received just two targets, and his explanation obviously included Rob Ryan’s gameplan, double-teams, and the way the Saints attacked Bryant with their coverages.
“Teams will come out and they will double him a lot of different ways. That Saints did that. They did that in all our different formations and all of our different personnel moves that we were using. He is one of those guys that they want to take out of the game…We didn’t do a good enough job just finding the other guys and making them pay with the other guys who weren’t getting isolated. We weren’t able to drive the ball the way that we wanted to and we didn’t do a very good job on third down (0 for 9) to sustain drives. That was a big part of this ball game.”